HC Deb 14 June 1945 vol 411 cc1753-4
14. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take all possible steps, by legislation or regulation, to enable hospital patients and other sick persons to record their votes at the coming General Election.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Donald Somervell)

The Speaker's Conference recommended that persons physically incapacitated shall be allowed to vote by post at a Parliamentary election. It is impossible in the time available to pass the legislation which would be necessary for this and other recommendations of the Speaker's Conference.

Mr. Driberg

Would it be possible in the large hospitals and sanatoria, where patients remain for a very long time, to have polling booths at the hospitals themselves so that at least walking patients could vote?

Sir D. Somervell

I am afraid that would be impossible. We cannot make alterations at this stage.

Sir Percy Harris

Would it be possible to arrange for transport facilities to take people to the polling booths from hospitals?

Sir D. Somervell

Of course, transport facilities can be arranged under the existing procedure, but I do not think the State could do that.

Sir Herbert Williams

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an explanation why the late Government were so dilatory in bringing before Parliament the quite elementary Bill which would have been necessary to deal with matters recommended by the Speaker's Conference?

Sir D. Somervell

No, I do not think I could give an explanation.